- Moroccan police have arrested 35 alleged recruiters for Al-Qaeda operations in Algeria and Iraq, accusing them of planning attack in the country, Moroccan officials have said.
Al Qaeda, alleged terrorism network, is said to have recruited and ferried 30 candidates for suicide operations in Iraq and also sent three volunteers to fight alongside members of the al Qaeda Branch in the Islamic Maghreb, Moroccan police officer said.
The latest group arrested is the third group Moroccan government has managed to disgruntle since beginning of the year. The arrests took place in Tangiers, Larache, Oujda, Tetouan, Rabat, Khouribga and Fes, security officials say.
The officer added government had broken 55 terrorist cells since 2003, when suicide bombings killed 45 people in Casablanca, the country's largest city, saying the number of Islamists in Moroccan jails had risen to nearly 1,000.
"The 35 suspects were also at an advanced stage in planning terrorist acts against both state and foreign interests inside Morocco itself," said the police officer.
Moroccan police in February announced the arrest of 36 people alleged to have been part of an Islamist network led by Belgian-Moroccan Abdelkader Belliraj and again in May they dismantled a network planning attacks in Belgium and Morocco. Two of the suspects have since been acquitted.
Last month a Moroccan court sentenced 29 people to prison terms of up to eight years for recruiting volunteers to fight in Iraq and ideological links to Al Qaeda and the Moroccan Islamic Fighting Group (GICM).
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, previously known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), vowed allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda last year.
Although most of its attacks are still launched in Algeria, it has also carried out operations in other North African countries.
Ever since it changed its name, the group has spread its activities, mainly targeting state and foreign interests in Algeria, but also recruiting fighters and also conducting attacks in various states.
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